flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Construction equipment continues to be vulnerable to theft


Construction equipment continues to be vulnerable to theft

Poor security and lax inventory control make jobsites sitting ducks for robbers, according to crime-data analysis by LoJack. 

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | October 7, 2015
Skid steers are susceptible to theft construction site lojack

Skid steers are susceptible to theft. Photo: Ildar Sagdejev/Creative Commons 

There probably isn’t a contractor in this country that at some point hasn’t been a victim of jobsite theft. In 2014, there were 11,625 heavy-equipment thefts reported to law enforcement, up 1.2% from 2013, according to the latest data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau in a report coproduced by the National Crime Information Center.

Total construction equipment theft now stands at around $1 billion annually. And only 23% of the heavy equipment stolen last year was recovered, the NICB report stated.

A survey conducted last year by Cygnus Business Media Research on behalf of LoJack, which makes theft-detection and –prevention devices, found that 83% of construction equipment owners polled had experienced equipment theft.

Courtney DeMilio, LoJack’s National Vice President of Commercial and Fleet, points out that theft can have a greater, negative impact on a business. “Loss in job productivity, the inability to complete a job, a diminished professional reputation—all while the owner is spending a substantial amount of time and money to replace the equipment,” she says.

The Canton, Mass.-based LoJack recently released its annual “Construction Equipment Theft and Recovery in the United States” report, based on its tracking, from January through December 2014, of theft reports in 28 states where equipment theft was reported and where construction equipment outfitted with a LoJack device led police to recover the stolen assets.


Graphics courtesy LoJack


From that sample, the report identifies backhoe loaders, skip loaders and wheel loaders as the most popular equipment targeted by thieves. “There is little visual differentiation from one backhoe to another, and they all share a common key,” the report explains. “Therefore, they are prime targets for thieves based on the ease of theft and how hard they are to track once one is stolen.”

Skid steers, generators/air compressors/welders and portable light towers; and excavators are also most susceptible to robbery.

The report notes that thieves typically go after newer and brand-name equipment. In 2014, 54% of the tracked equipment stolen was less than five years old. And 65% of the thefts were of products made by top manufacturers such as Bobcat (24% of the equipment stolen), John Deere (20%), Caterpiller and Case (tied at 8% each), Takeuchi (6%) and Magnum (5%).



The report gives several reasons why construction equipment and tools continue to be vulnerable to thieves. For one thing, titling and registration of equipment aren’t mandated, so it’s often hard to report theft and harder for law enforcement to track what’s stolen. There’s also no standardized identification numbers on this stuff, like the Vehicle Identification Numbers on cars and trucks.

In addition, jobsite security is not always as tight as it could be, and the sites themselves can be remote. And because equipment and tools are constantly being transferred between sites, owners can be lax in their inventory accounting.

“The thief isn’t always somebody unrelated to the job, as often he or she can be a member of the company that owns the equipment,” DeMilio tells BD+C. But inside jobs aside, the industry has a “natural exposure” to theft because jobsites are on predictable schedules, leaving opportunities open for thieves will often scope out sites looking for weak spots.

Not surprisingly, theft is more prevalent in states where there’s more construction activity, with California and Texas having the highest occurrences. But unlike cars, which when stolen often end up in other states, 95% of the stolen construction equipment and tools that are recovered are found in the same state they were stolen in.

DeMilio says contractors and owners need to keep their equipment off the street in secured areas patrolled by guards. They should also be in close contact with police “so they are aware of the area and can be monitoring during off hours.” She recommends that owners adopt technology that includes cameras, electronic access pads, GPS geo-fencing, and covert RF recover devices.

LoJack, naturally, pitches the efficacy of installing detection and telematic devices on construction equipment so that owners are alerted to unauthorized use during off hours, and police have a better shot at retrieving stolen goods. It points out that 56% of stolen equipment with a LoJack system was recovered within 24 hours after being reported, and 5% was recovered within an hour.


Related Stories

BAS and Security | May 26, 2022

Can your intelligent building outsmart hackers?

ESD's security services studio leader Coleman Wolf offers tips, advice, and lessons for protecting real estate assets from cyberattacks.

Sports and Recreational Facilities | May 26, 2022

WNBA practice facility will offer training opportunities for female athletes and youth

The Seattle Storm’s Center for Basketball Performance will feature amenities for community youth, including basketball courts, a nutrition center, and strength and conditioning training spaces.

Engineers | May 25, 2022

Epstein: The next 100 years

Multidisciplinary design and construction firm Epstein turned 100 in 2021. Two of its Directors discuss the firm's future, and what other AEC firms can learn from Epstein's experience. Darrin McCormies, Director of Industrial Services, and Ed Curley, AIA, Director of Architecture + Interiors, talk with BD+C's Rob Cassidy. 

Multifamily Housing | May 25, 2022

9 noteworthy multifamily developments to debut in 2022

A 1980s-era shopping mall turned mixed-use housing and a mid-rise multifamily tower with unusual rowhomes highlight the innovative multifamily developments to debut recently.

Coronavirus | May 20, 2022

Center for Green Schools says U.S. schools need more support to fight COVID-19

  The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council released a new report detailing how school districts around the country have managed air quality within their buildings during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regulations | May 20, 2022

Biden’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge aims to reduce COVID-⁠19 spread

The Biden Administration recently launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge that calls on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations to adopt strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Building Team | May 20, 2022

Caltech breaks ground on a new center to study climate and sustainability

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recently broke ground on its Resnick Sustainability Resource Center.

Laboratories | May 20, 2022

Brutalist former Berkeley Art Museum transformed into modern life science lab

After extensive renovation and an addition, the former Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley campus reopened in May 2022 as a modern life science lab building.

Sports and Recreational Facilities | May 19, 2022

Northern Arizona University opens a new training center for its student athletes

In Flagstaff, Ariz. Northern Arizona University (NAU) has opened its new Student-Athlete High Performance Center. 

Energy-Efficient Design | May 19, 2022

Shipping containers used to build Research Triangle Park’s first community gathering space

Shipping containers were the prominent building material used to construct Boxyard RTP, the first public community and gathering place in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP). 

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category


Epstein: The next 100 years

Multidisciplinary design and construction firm Epstein turned 100 in 2021. Two of its Directors discuss the firm's future, and what other AEC firms can learn from Epstein's experience. Darrin McCormies, Director of Industrial Services, and Ed Curley, AIA, Director of Architecture + Interiors, talk with BD+C's Rob Cassidy. 

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021


Magazine Subscription

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.


Follow BD+C: